A presentation by Dr Charlotte Hardman at the ISA Conference 2018
Consumption of low-calorie sweetened (LCS) beverages has increased significantly. Previous research indicates that some individuals frequently consume high quantities of LCS beverages while others choose to avoid them. Little is known about the psychological factors, such as beliefs and attitudes, which influence and maintain LCS beverage intake. To address this gap in knowledge, we have developed a novel questionnaire to quantify beliefs and attitudes towards LCS beverages. Using this tool, we have found that frequent consumers (>825 ml LCS beverages per day; N=108) believe that LCS beverages are highly palatable as well as being effective in controlling appetite (hunger, cravings) and body weight. Non-consumers (N=103) did not share these beliefs. Frequent consumers also had higher levels of dietary restraint and body weight concerns than non-consumers, suggesting that they may use LCS beverages as a strategy to control food intake. To further test this idea, we conducted a laboratory study with frequent consumers (N=158) to examine food consumption when LCS beverages were available compared to when they were unavailable. Results indicated that participants ate fewer calories from sweet and savoury snack foods, felt less guilty about their food intake and more in control of their eating when LCS beverages were available compared to unavailable. Together, these findings suggest that positive beliefs about palatability and appetite control are key determinants of LCS beverage consumption. Results also indicate that LCS beverages may be used as part of a successful strategy to control food intake and reduce negative psychological states associated with eating.